Mitt's Scorched Earth Win
While Mitt Romney may have taken a step closer to the nomination Tuesday in Florida, the scorched earth he leaves behind tells me he took a few steps further away from the White House -- and what's more, he knows it.
No man who really thinks he has a chance at occupying the Oval Office would ever find it necessary to use 99 per cent -- yes, that's right, 99 per cent -- of his own massive advertising budget to tear down his chief opponent.
I'm not talking about Super PAC ads and I'm not even factoring in the mega bucks worth of anti Gingrich publicity provided by the establishment media. No, I am talking only about the rich Romney Campaign advertising budget for Florida. You know, the "I'm Mitt Romney and I approved this message" budget.
And you read the figures right. Ninety nine pennies out of every ad dollar these folks spent was invested in the destruction of Newt Gingrich. With so little to brag about apparently, one penny per buck was used in a positive way. And to add insult to injury, Romney and his campaign operatives found it necessary to go around claiming that they were merely responding to Gingrich's efforts. Puh-leeze. Mark Levin called them out on that fantasy Tuesday evening on his show.
So Mitt, congratulations. You have just won the shallowest and most negative and destructive victory in modern American politics according to a study quoted widely on Tuesday night's Levin Show.
There was something that stunk to high heaven about the Iowa campaign and the same thing is true of Florida. Thanks to the Campaign Media Analysis Group for putting numbers and hard facts to what we already instinctively knew. This has been an awful campaign for about the past 5 or 6 weeks and in no way is it normal.
It was not always that way, however.
Consider that back in November and December as Newt was surging up in the polls, he had not run a single negative ad nor had he so much as fired a shot across the bow of any of the other Republican candidates. In fact, he was the lead defender of Herman Cain as Cain's media persecution started. And as everyone knows, Newt was the one in all of the debates who made a point of mentioning that the problem was Obama and that any of the Republicans running would be far superior to the current occupant of the Oval Office. Check the tape if you have forgotten this.
This was what the base voter was craving and thus it was so successful that Newt threatened to run away from the field before Iowa. Panicked, the entire field turned negative on Newt, led by Romney and Paul's campaigns and PACs -- and almost half of every ad dollar in Iowa was a missile fired directly at Newt. It worked for Iowa and carried over to tiny New Hampshire.
But Newt was not dead. Once again, with help teed up by Juan Williams and John King, Newt took dead aim not as his Republican opponents, but at liberalism in general in the S.C. debates. He connected for several home run moments in Monday's debate in Myrtle Beach and effectively won the state in the first three minutes of the Thursday debate in Charleston. Not only did he win by keeping focused on liberals, he won defending the conservative honor of the entire field. Newt routed everyone in South Carolina, and that translated to healthy leads heading to Florida. And in his first day in Florida, he thrilled huge crowds with more red meat at the expense of Obama, Saul Alinsky and other assorted liberals.
(Now why Newt and his campaign abandoned this strategy and felt the need to respond to the negativity is beyond me, but that's another article).
Again, Mitt panicked. His PAC panicked. And what they put the poor television viewers of Florida through was shameful. And do not buy any assessment that this was a two way street or that both sides were equally guilty. The numbers make liars of anyone who tries to float that point of view.
In addition to the stunning figure of 99% quoted above, nearly half (47%) of Newt's supporting groups' advertising was positive. Over all, some 68 per cent of all advertising by all candidates and PACs in Florida was aimed at Newt. In total, Mitt and his PACs outspend Newt and his PAC's 6 to 1. Yes, six to one.
And if that wasn't enough, the assault on Newt from the establishment continued en masse as Bob Dole piled on and George Will continued his snarky attacks. All of which led to a dark fantasy kind of a win for Mitt Romney. He had no reason to ask for folks to vote for him, and thus he did not invest much to do so. The scorched earth of Florida will in no way, shape or form resemble any other state let alone the General Election. The carpet bombing of Iowa and Florida would simply cost way too much money to duplicate nationally. Further, the media support will not be there against Obama either.
In other words, Mitt won Florida and New Hampshire, but he showed in both states that he is totally unprepared to take on Obama. And what's more, he knows it. He knows he can give no one a compelling reason to vote for him and he knows he's in trouble if he has to go off script. There's no other way to explain the salt the fields tactics he felt pressured to resort to.